Monday, January 27, 2014

Best of the Net 1/13-1/26

Happy Birthday to Michigan!

Michigan celebrated its 177th birthday yesterday. Michigan became a state on January 26, 1837. After 177 years, the Great Lakes State is as beautiful as ever.

Opportunities to Succeed in Detroit

Southeast Michigan Startup features a great summary of career preparation programs for children in the Detroit area. One of the programs featured is Go-Girl, which encourages 7th grade girls to build skills in science, technology, engineering and math. The feature also highlights programs that encourage interest in health professions and entrepreneurship.

Ice Climbing In The U.P.

It may be really cold in the Upper Peninsula during the winter, but the frigid temperatures do create opportunities for outdoor adventures. Pure Michigan explores the sport of ice climbing. In the Pure Michigan story, ice climber Bill Thompson shares the thrill of climbing the Pictured Rocks along Lake Superior. The Pictured Rocks are not the only location to ice climb in Michigan. The state has the highest concentration of ice climbs in the nation. To learn more about ice climbing, daring adventurers can visit the Michigan Ice Fest in Munising this weekend.

Detroit Lives

Detroit Lives, LLC is one of many Detroit success stories. Crain's Detroit Business highlights the company's growth from a T-shirt company to video production house with new headquarters in the David Stott Building in Downtown Detroit.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Brooks Was Here…But He Didn’t Stop for Gas

L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County’s Executive, is the center of a media circus for hateful comments he made to the New Yorker about the city of Detroit, comments that I condemn. The articles I have read quote him as saying, “The truth hurts, you know? Tough shit.”

The biggest problem I have with Mr. Patterson’s statements is that I knew too many people who said similar things when I was growing up. Hell, to some extent, I once was one of them. I never would have said anything as racist as Mr. Patterson’s Indian reservation comment, but I never gave Detroit a real chance until I moved away and started reading and hearing (and then writing) about the wonderful things happening in the city.

Like Mr. Patterson, I am a white guy. I was born in Detroit but raised in Oakland County. During the 1980s and 1990s, Detroit was a place for me to go for a Tigers game, the Detroit-Windsor Freedom Festival fireworks, the auto show, or maybe a Coney dog, but I never went for much else. When I was in college in Ann Arbor, I drove into the city a couple times to catch a band play, but I otherwise ignored the city of my birth.

My maternal grandma used to always say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Although I love and respect my grandma, I do not agree one hundred percent with that statement. Sometimes constructive criticism is necessary, but using the truth (or what you perceive as the truth) as a dagger to twist into someone’s heart is not constructive.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Longing for Michigan Winters

Longing to play in the snow
Living in Virginia, I long for Michigan winters. The snow and ice shaped some of my best childhood memories. When I return now as an adult, I find peace among the frozen branches and snow-covered grounds of my youth.


The first snow was the best. I did not dislike later snows, but they never were as thrilling as the first blanket of unspoiled white powder.

If I hurried outside, my footsteps would be the first brushstrokes upon the blank canvas. Animals had not even walked this earth yet.

Each step brought the sense that I was blazing a trail for future explorers to follow. Looking back at my lonely footsteps confirmed my belief that I was the first one here. Others would come, but my footprints would announce that they were too late.

Perhaps they would pave over my path or create avenues that intersected with mine. They might build monuments and forts of snow to protect their land, but their foundations were weak and eventually would fall. Later snowfalls might cover my trail and theirs, but they would not take that moment away from me. I was first…forever.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Best of the Net 1/6-1/12

Pure Michigan Is #1 Again

The Pure Michigan travel campaign continues to be the gold standard of state tourism campaigns. Its advertising campaign already wins more awards than any other state's tourism campaign. Pure Michigan also can claim the most-visited state travel website in the United States for the seventh straight year. According to Experian Hitwise, Pure Michigan's website had more than 9 million web visits in 2013. Michigan's website attracted nearly 1 million more visits than second place Florida.

Detroit's Co-Working Opportunities

Co-Lab Detroit's co-working week will commence on January 20th. As reported by Michipreneur, the five-day event will feature several of Detroit's co-working spaces. Each participating co-working space will host visitors and provide information about its collaborative environment, as well as information about Detroit's creative economy.

These Teens Are Fired Up

Water Street Glassworks in Benton Harbor is a nonprofit school and studio dedicated to glass and metal arts. Its Fired Up! program allows local teens to learn glassblowing, fusing, bead making or stained glass. Michigan Nightlight highlighted the after school program's efforts to teach teamwork and other important life skills. The 27 students who participate in Fired Up! attend the program tuition-free thanks to fundraising efforts.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year's Best of the Net 12/23-1/5

Happy New Year! A lot of good things happened in Michigan in 2013. Let's hope 2014 is even better for the Great Lakes State. The last week of 2013 and the first days of 2014 saw some good economic news and, of course, Michiganders doing good deeds during the holidays. Here are some of the best stories of the last two weeks.

Michigan Is Gaining Population

For years, Michigan has seen a population decline, but new reports show that migration from Michigan is halting and that the state has grown in population for the second straight year. United Van Lines released its 37th annual migration study showing that the number of inbound and outbound moves to Michigan were essentially equal. Crain's Detroit Business reports that this is the first time in 16 years that Michigan did not have more outbound migration than inbound migration.

Michigan also retained its spot as the ninth most populous state after increasing its population for the second straight year according to the Detroit Free Press. The Free Press cites U.S. Census Bureau data that shows the state had a slight gain of 13,103 residents or 0.1%.

Good Deeds During The Holidays

Although the Jewish and Muslim communities may not celebrate Christmas, nearly 1,000 members of three Jewish congregations and the Michigan Muslim Community Council spent December 25 serving meals at social services agencies throughout Metro Detroit. The Detroit News reported that the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit organized the event, called "Mitzvah Day." For more information about Mitzvah Day, click here.

One Metro Detroit boy decided to help people less fortunate when he was only six years old. The Detroit Free Press tells the story of Caleb White and how seeing a homeless person motivated him to spend each Christmas in Downtown Detroit to pass out presents to the city's homeless population. Caleb, who is eleven years old now, gave 150 care packages to homeless people this Christmas.

Walk Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor makes a lot of "best of" lists, and it now can include itself among the most walkable cities in the United States. Governing magazine ranks Ann Arbor as the fourth most walkable city, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau. The bureau's statistics show that more than 15% of Ann Arborites walk to work. The list is dominated by towns with large universities, with Cambridge, Mass., Columbia, S.C., and Berkeley, Calif. ranked one through three.

Ideas For Next New Year's Eve

Why travel to New York's Times Square to huddle up with 200,000 people to watch performers badly lip sync songs when Michigan has plenty of New Year's Eve activities of its own? Two publications recently highlighted two of Michigan's ball drops.

The growth of Campus Martius in Detroit now offers Detroiters a ball drop of their own. Crain's Detroit Business recently highlighted the creators of Detroit's New Year's Eve ball, Erik and Israel Nordin, and their company, Detroit Design Center.

If you live near Ludington and want to experience a New Year's ball drop, you are in luck. Yahoo Travel listed Ludington's Mitten Bar as one of eight places to celebrate New Year's Eve that are better than Times Square. Customers can stay in Mitten Bar while watching Ludington's ball drop outside.

Great Lakes, Great Books

The Library of Michigan has released its 2014 list of notable Michigan Books. The list includes 20 books about Michigan people, places and events. The list includes a biography of former Detroit Tiger Mark Fidrych, a history of Chief Pontiac's Rebellion and a collection of poems and stories about the Upper Peninsula.

Grand Rapids Is A Best Buy

The Grand Rapids Business Journal reports that the Grand Rapids housing market is the number 11 best buy city for housing according to Forbes. Forbes determined that Grand Rapids was one of several cities with high job growth and undervalued home prices, making the city a good place to invest in a home. For the Forbes report, click here.

West Michigan Helps Detroit

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has expanded its operations to Detroit, according to a report by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. The Battle Creek-based foundation already supports Detroit financially (with $25 million in grants to Detroit last year alone), but now it has opened an office in Downtown Detroit to better assist the city's children and families. The foundation focuses on creating healthier and better educated children as well as providing resources to raise families above the poverty line.

Michigan State Wins The Rose Bowl

Coach Mark Dantonio's Michigan State Spartans won the Rose Bowl with their signature dominating defense. In the 100th Rose Bowl game, Michigan State proved they deserve mention as one of the nation's elite college football teams with their 24-20 victory over Stanford . The Spartans finished their season 13-1 and were a few plays (and questionable calls from the refs) from finishing their season undefeated. It would have been interesting to see their elite defense line up across from Florida State's explosive offense.

Congratulations to the Spartans on an amazing season!